Expectations about where the industry would be at this time in March were grim, but the social distancing-friendly nature of powersports vehicles proved our expectations to be incorrect – and for good reason.
This year alone thus far, off-highway motorcycle sales have skyrocketed 50.3% compared with the same period last year, while dual-purpose motorcycle sales have jumped 20.9% in the same time frame, according to the Motorcycle Industry Council. In comparison, on-road segments have also been seeing their fair share of positive spikes during this same period of time, confirming that the powersport market is one of the few that has benefitted from the new social distancing protocols that have been put into place around the United States.
Due to this influx, vehicles are flying off the showroom floor as fast as they arrive and manufacturers and dealers are now faced with an unexpected demand and limited inventory. With increased sanitation efforts, mask wearing and social distancing within the dealership, dealers are looking for solutions to improve customer satisfaction during this pandemic. The answer: F&I.
“The majority of new motorcycles have a 12-month warranty,” said Regional Sales Manager at McGraw Powersports Jason Duncan. “We don’t want a customer to find themselves out of that factory warranty, with no coverage, and in a situation that costs them significant out-of-pocket expense.”
In a time when personal finances are being impacted by the pandemic, it is important for dealers to be aware of potential budgetary restraints or payment alternatives for customers. It is also equally important to maintain transparency and open communication with internal staff to ensure a positive work environment at your dealership. With state and national guidelines frequently changing to adapt to COVID-19, taking extra precaution to let your customers know that they will be safe in the dealership is key.
“It’s a good idea to use signage to indicate that the business office, along with the dealership, is safe and clean for the customer,” Duncan said.
“Whether you as a manager agree or disagree about masks and the protocols the dealership has established, the fact is that you’re going to make some people really uncomfortable if they come into a closed finance office with little ventilation. It has to be a standard in the pandemic market to make customers feel comfortable,” said Gart Sutton, president of Gart Sutton & Associates, who focuses on driving top powersports dealers to superior operations, sales
Once a customer has made the decision to purchase a vehicle, Sutton recommends that there are five non-negotiables that should be followed to maximize profit in the F&I department. These tips are applicable today, even under the new norm of the pandemic.
- All customers are introduced to the F&I office at the point-of-sale.
- Salespeople refer customer questions about rates, exact payments or insurance programs to the business manager.
- Follow the 400% rule: 100% of customers are offered 100% of the dealership’s F&I products, 100% of the time, with 100% compliance.
- Use an F&I menu.
- The business manager never accepts a decline/rejection from the preferred lender without qualifications.
Following these five tips can help maximize time with the customer to get to know how and where they will be using their new vehicle, if they plan on doing maintenance themselves or at their purchasing dealership and give a customer important information that might encourage them to purchase an
“There’s no greater sin that can be placed on an F&I department than a customer walking in with a cashier’s check,” Sutton explained. “There’s nothing worse than not giving a customer the opportunity to talk with the finance department prior to going to a bank to come in with a final check for the
“Communication is key,” Duncan said. “The business manager needs to meet with the customer before it’s time to complete paperwork, and they should verify the customer’s information for accuracy and establish a clear timeline of what is going to happen next. It sounds simple, but this small gesture goes a long way and significantly increases overall customer satisfaction.”
Helping lead a customer into an F&I purchase is something that will give them peace of mind in the event of an accident or expired warranty.
“With a contract, you have additional coverage that is there from day one to protect the customer in the event the manufacturer won’t cover the failure,” Duncan explained. “A great example would be fork seals; McGraw would cover that failure where most OEMs would not, even if it happened during the manufacturer’s warranty.”
Making sure the customer is protected after making their purchase is the legacy that drives McGraw Powersports. Offering insurance, service contracts and specialized coverage, including asset, appearance, tire and wheel and theft protection; roadside assistance; GPS recovery and priority maintenance, McGraw has every portion of the industry covered for the customer.
“McGraw Powersports service contracts cover the customer when they are having a bad day — not having to pay several thousands of dollars to repair an engine and being able to get their unit fixed, so they can get back on the road or trail,” Duncan said. “McGraw has a great lineup of products, but more importantly, I think dealers should be aware of who they are selling. McGraw Powersports is a dependable powersports company; Jack McGraw started writing motorcycle insurance over 40 years ago. That book of business helped McGraw Powersports to develop our extended service contract business, which lead to our tire and wheel plans, priority maintenance, term battery coverage and newly developed lifetime
“There are many dealers out who that have a fantastic process in place to increase overall customer satisfaction and ease of a customer’s purchase,” Duncan added. “The dealers that are doing an excellent job are talking about all the customer’s options early on in the sale, getting the business manager involved with the customer way before it is time to do paperwork, and are effectively communicating the steps and timeline of their purchase, increasing overall customer satisfaction.”
For more information on McGraw Powersports, visit mcgrawpowersports.com.